For a Malibu splash that’s not in a chlorinated pool, head to Malibu Creek State Park
. Flowing from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Pacific, the park’s namesake creek passes through Rock Pool, a lagoon the size of a baseball diamond with semi-submerged boulders mimicking base plates. The surrounding orange sandstone walls with Swiss-cheese pockets exude such an out-of-this-world appearance it’s not surprising that they were cast as a backdrop in the original Planet of the Apes
. Pack a lunch and enjoy it at a lone picnic table under the shade of nearby sycamores. Rock Pool can be accessed by several trails; we recommend making it an afternoon doubleheader by taking the 3-mile (round-trip) hike that begins on the South Grassland Trail and gains just enough elevation to provide panoramic views. That’s an inside-the-park home run!
Malibu Creek State Park can be reached by driving south on Las Virgenes Rd. from the 101 Freeway in Lost Hills or north on Malibu Canyon Rd. from PCH in Malibu. At the intersection with Mulholland Hwy. (6.3 miles from the coast and 3.3 miles from freeway), turn west and drive 0.15-mile to the trailhead on the left. Park on either side of the road and begin hiking into the park. After 2/3 of a mile, turn right on a wide trail named Crags Road. Stroll alongside the rocky bed of Malibu Creek for another 2/3 of a mile to a marked junction. Turn left, walking a short distance toward a metal bridge; turn right just before the bridge, following the creek up to Rock Pool. No dogs.